How To Get Fast
By Tony Veney
How do you get faster? The best way to get faster is to run fast. You must have the speed you need before you can build the endurance to survive it, which is one of the biggest mistakes that coaches make. Speed is 25 times more difficult to develop than endurance. If I had a room full or coaches right now, I bet you that all these coaches, you could say you are out of shape. I probably get most of the hands raised saying that they probably weren’t in the best condition, but I tell you what, if I had all the coaches walk to laps around a hotel.
Or let’s go on a little 5K walk. And we walked out a mile and a half and came back a mile and a half, do you know that we’ve just changed our fitness level. That’s how easy it is to change your fitness and to change your endurance. Just a maybe 30, 40-minute walk is going to make you more fit. Speed is much, much more difficult to develop and this is where most coaches go wrong. They run an inordinate amount of endurance thinking I am going to get this kid strong and they are moving away from the event and the parameters of running fast. And the longer you stay away from something, the less of the quality that you are going to get back when you ask for it. So the less time I spend sprinting, the more difficult it’s going to be for me to sprint when you ask me too.
How do you get faster? Endurance, again, is an expandable value. And I just talked about using the example of walking a 5K and it’s tied to the level of fitness the sprinter can achieve. Your endurance will be improved after only a week of running warm up and warm down. I mean, if you just come and warm up at the beginning of track season, do some light drills and warm down, every day you do that, you are going to get fitter or more fit. However, because speed is a determinate factor, it’s not expandable, like endurance is, and can only be developed in very small increments, but a 2 percent improvement in your 100 meters by improving your speed and power by only 2 percent, can take an 11 flat 100-meter man to maybe the state finals. A young fella that gets eliminated as league meet is now running 4, 5 weeks later in the season and maybe standing on the podium getting a medal or running on a relay that wins a state championship, 2 percent.
Running faster is predicated on being able to sustain efforts at a percentage of your maximum speed. But if most of your speed and most of your time is spent running slow to get strong as coaches say. Well, she’s going to run cross-country, please do not run your sprinters in cross-country. I understand, because if you run your sprinters in cross-country, because maybe you need an extra kid and if you don’t, you won’t score a coach. I understand and I would probably agree with you and probably do the same thing, but if your sprinters don’t need to run cross-country, don’t run them slow, they need to run fast.
But training your sprinter to run fast doesn’t mean just doing sprint work and I’m going to get to that in just a moment. I’m going to touch one more thing on endurance training.
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Tony Veney is one of the most respected individuals in track and field. He has over 35 years of track and field coaching and teaching experience, including stints on the staffs at the University of Oregon, Portland State, UCLA, and currently Ventura College. During his extensive career, he has coached numerous all-conference and All-American track and field athletes. Coach Veney has experienced success coaching youth, collegiate, and elite sprinters and hurdlers. A 1976 graduate of UCLA, he was the 800 meter record holder for the Bruins and was a member of two NCAA outdoor track and field championship teams. Veney is a USATF level I-II-III instructor, with a Master of Coaching Certificate. From 1987 to 2000, Coach Veney was a regional and national Sprint Development Coordinator for USATF.